Money can be a scary thing. For many children of immigrants parents, the U.S. banking/credit based system is something that they are not familiar with, because many immigrant parents don’t believe in credit and pay things with cash (I still remember the first credit card my parents got… they saw borrowing money to buy things as “bad” and slowly had to learn about how the credit system works in the USA).
In addition to the cultural differences, let’s be realistic, money is not really an easy topic to talk about, we didn’t learn about it in school. It can be a very emotional topic, and it can be a topic we just avoid all together.
Last week we were invited to meet Brittney Castro, a Latina who is helping women all over the United States become financially empowered. Brittney is a certified financial planner and Founder & CEO of Financially Wise Women.
Brittney specializes in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial women want to gain clarity around their money. Ms. Castro partners with her clients to create an actionable financial plan that simplifies their financial lives allowing them more time to do what they love most. Brittney’s mission is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money.
Brittney gave us five life changing financial tips to take control of our money.
1 – BUDGETING IS KEY!
Budgeting is key! It’s important to know what you are spending, when and how yo uare spendign it. Here are some apps that are useful to help you budget: MINT and LEVEL.
2 – WEEKLY MONEY DATES
Brittney says we have a relationship with money and we have to cultivate it, nurture it.
Dedicate time to talk about money – either with your spouse, or just to go over your expenses. Spend an hour reviewing your budget: what did you spend money on? What do I have coming? Spend time talking about it so you’re more aware and more conscious about it, and therefore you don’t stress over it.
3 – KEEP YOUR CREDIT SCORE IN CHECK
There are a few ways to check your credit score (including Chase’s Slate card or other credit cards who offer the service). A great score is 750+. I asked Brittney about how someone can fix their credit score if they have a low score. Here’s what she said about how to improve your credit score:
- Paying bill on time – This is a huge factor!
- 30% of all cards – Ratio of credit to amount due.
- Length of time credit has been established – never close! (If you do, your credit line will decrease, and your ratio of debt will increase).
- Type of credit: if you have a mortgage, a car loan, this will show lenders that you are trusthworthy since others have already lent you money.
4 – FOLLOW THE 50/20/30 RULE
Brittney mentioned this ratio, to be split in the following way:
- 50% of income => fixed expenses (mortgage, car payment, life insurance should go in here!)
- 20% => to savings, retirement, college, debt reduction
- 30% variable => personal expenses, travel, non-essentials
5 – HAVE A CASH CUSHION
An emergency fund is key for those unexpected moments: if you lose your job, if you decide to quit and become an entrepreneur, or if you have an accident, just to name a few. The recommended amount is 3-6 months of fixed expenses in case of an emergency.
A few more tips from Brittney:
- Get your own financial house in order before saving for college.
- We must not be afraid to learn about finances and money.
- We must realize it is another language and lifelong study.
- It’s never to early / too late to hire a financial planner!
You can follow Brittney on Twitter @BrittneyCastro
*Editor’s note: I was invited to an evening with Brittney Castro by Chase. All opinions are my own.